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Getting through back-to-school anxiety

Jacksonville parents are concerned about stress going back to school. Here's how experts say you can help your kids.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Back-to-school is here once again! With so much to do, this time of year can create anxiety for both parents and students.

“It’s like pulling teeth with my boys sometimes getting an answer other than ‘good’ when I ask how their day was," Katie Hathaway, a Jacksonville mom of two, said.

With two boys heading into 6th and 8th grade, Katie Hathaway says there is always stress getting back into the new school year.

“It’s interesting getting them organized. I have two boys, and then they’re going into a new block schedule this year, so that’s going to be new for the whole family. And just trying to figure out how to best prepare them, keep them organized and making sure that they’re prepared for the school day, each day," said Hathaway

Back to school anxiety can cause students to feel restless, tense and even cause headaches.

So how do you make back to school as easy as 1-2-3? Kevin Petersen, a family counselor and owner of The Chronic Hope Institute in Jacksonville Beach says it starts with communication.

"You'll see sort of eruptions over normal things like big reactions about little things. But it's tempting, sometimes as a parent to be like, Hey, what's wrong with you? And that's really not the approach, the approach we want to take is to say, Hey, what's going on? What's happening to you?" Petersen, said. 

Other suggestions as students head back to school, establish a routine early on early, organize school supplies, break down the class schedule or take a visit to the school.

“If they know some of their classmates, or some of their neighbors are going to the same school, do it as a group. That always helps because kids always feel safer when they know someone and they can connect with someone immediately," Petersen, said. 

Enrolling students in an activity, like a sport or theater classes, can also create a safe place and reduce anxiety.

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